March 8, 2017

Honourable senators, today as a former Minister for the Status of Women for the Northwest Territories, I wish to join my honourable colleagues to acknowledge International Women’s Day.

I recall one of my first public appearances as Minister for the Status of Women in 1981 was to join a march against pornography down the main street of Franklin Avenue in Yellowknife with a women’s group protesting against the launch of an X-rated TV channel on the local cable service.

But today I rise to congratulate the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, for opening Nunavut’s second men’s shelter. I had the privilege of cutting the ribbon at their opening on February 9, alongside Mayor Jeannie Ehaloak. The timing of this opening is serendipitous as the Senate has just released its study on housing in Inuit Nunangat and identified the need for transition housing and for more housing for homeless Nunavummiut.

The shelter, the Omingmak Centre, received funding from the Government of Nunavut’s Ministry of Family Services, Health Canada and CMHC, to renovate a building that had been donated to the hamlet and maintain an eight-bed homeless shelter.

Since its opening, on a day when the temperature was minus 33 degrees centigrade, the shelter has run at full capacity and currently has a waiting list. It’s hoped that further funding can be secured from territorial and federal departments to enable the hamlet to expand the facility, double the capacity and invest in better washroom facilities for the residents.

In a territory whose climate is harsh and unforgiving in winter, it is imperative that safe, clean and appropriate shelter be made available to Nunavut’s homeless. Sadly, the need is great in these communities due to a lack of traditional housing options in Nunavut.

I wish to thank Ministers Duclos and Philpott and their officials, and Minister Mike of the Government of Nunavut, for their support of this important initiative and encourage the federal government to continue supporting this much-needed housing initiative. I would like to recognize the achievement of the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay in establishing a “homegrown solution” with the support of the territorial and federal governments. Thank you. Qujannamiik.

Statement – Omingmak Centre